The Insurance Services Organization (ISO), nationally recognized as a premiere independent rating organization, determines the risk of a community for fire or other emergencies by rating the community’s fire department and its ability to handle emergencies. This in turn helps to establish appropriate fire insurance premiums as a community’s investment in fire mitigation is a proven and reliable predictor of future fire losses. A well-protected community has less of a risk for fire and property loss, resulting in fewer insurance claims or claims in smaller amounts. ISO analyzes data using a series of fire suppression rating schedules to determine how quickly and accurately a fire department is able to protect a city. Carefully studied are response times along with the ratio of personnel to the number and type of apparatus. Additionally, the ability of a fire department to contain a working fire, the work of the fire prevention division and its effectiveness, how firefighters are trained along with fire investigations and the training of fire investigators also factor into the rating process. Water supply and the distance to hydrants is factored in as well.
The rating schedule ranges from 1 to 10. A score of 10 is the worst possible score with a 1 rating being the best score. In and around the metro Boston area where all fire departments are staffed with full time professional, highly trained firefighters, the most common rating is a 3. The Malden Fire Department requested a reevaluation and upon an exhaustive study lasting two full months in which every area of the Fire Department was evaluated, the ISO rating was announced on August 3, 2015. After being rated a 3 for many decades, Malden was upgraded to a 2! This extraordinary upgrade was the result of numerous improvements to the fire department and the water supply system along with upgrades in apparatus maintenance and training.